Students have stopped classes at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Pietermaritzburg campus. Student Representative Council (SRC) member Xola Mehlomakhulu said students had not received their National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowances for food and accommodation. He also claimed that post-graduate students were being excluded from the fund and unable to further their studies.
SRC members started protest action last Thursday. “We cannot allow classes to continue while others are being affected. By doing that we want everyone to feel what other students are feeling. We can’t allow others to study while others are suffering,” said Mehlomakhulu. “No one can attend classes on an empty stomach.”
He said students are squatting with other students; some have no place to stay.
“Some of the lecturers try to sneak classes,” said a student. “Once they [the protesting students] see that there is some attention in class they come in and distract classes. I’m from Imbali Unit 2. I take four taxis a day. Since Thursday, I’ve been coming to campus for nothing.
“My concern is that tests are resuming next week. What is going to happen? These students don’t want anyone to study. We are starting to feel the pinch,” said the student.
When GroundUp visited the campus, police were visible along Golf Road. Some students were sitting outside the campus. They watched as the police chased a group of protesters. Teargas was used to disperse the protesters.
A student who is part of the group that is disrupting lectures said he had not received his allowance. “I’m currently living with a friend in the township. I survive on cheap bread. I don’t have the money for food and accommodation.”
University spokesperson Normah Zondo said, “The university management is engaging with student leadership to resolve matters. Protesters are urged to allow time for discussions to take place, and desist from causing further disruption.”
GroundUp has got no response NSFAS, despite phoning, emailing and texting.